Ohio University announced Tuesday that masks are no longer required in the majority of its non-classroom spaces on all campuses, excluding its Chillicothe and Southern branches, effective immediately.
OU’s decision follows recent updates in guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The CDC recently implemented COVID-19 community levels — which range from low to medium to high — based upon community hospitalization rates, local health system strain and case rates, according to its website.
OU’s Chillicothe and Southern campuses are the only campuses located in counties with high community level, according to a university-wide email. Athens County’s community level is medium as of Tuesday.
Masks are still required in classrooms, labs, studios, clinical settings and OU transportation across every campus, regardless of community level. Depending on the individual policies of certain organizations and groups, on-campus events may have different masking requirements.
On Monday, Athens City Council tabled its discussions regarding the extension of the city mask mandate. The original ordinance that was introduced expired Monday, so there is no longer an Athens mask mandate in effect.
In the email, OU also said its cases have steadily decreased since Jan. 5, which contributed to its decision to relax the mask mandate. As of Monday, there are only 518 active COVID-19 cases in Athens County, according to the Athens City-County Health Department. On Jan. 5, it was reported that there were 680 active cases.
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, 89% of students and employees are vaccinated across all campuses, and 91.4% of the Athens campus is vaccinated.